… whenever the Indians come to Detroit on trade or other business, they encamp on or about this farm. this would give them opportunities of seeing their sons & daughters, & their advancement in the useful arts, of seeing & learning from example all the operations & process of a farm, and of always carrying home themselves some additional knolege of these things … & losing by degrees all other dependance for subsistence, they would deprecate [disapprove of] war with us as bringing certain destruction on their property, and would become a barrier for that distant & insulated post against the Indians beyond them.
To President James Madison, December 7, 1809
Patrick Lee’s Explanation
Wise leaders use every opportunity to teach.
The first post from this letter outlined Jefferson’s vision to use a government-owned farm near Detroit as a school for Indian girls and boys. The girls were to learn household arts, the boys farming. Both were to be taught to read and write.
A second purpose for this farm/school was to be an object lesson for other Indians. They were to camp on or near this farm when they came to Detroit. In doing so, they would see the advantages enjoyed by their children and take that knowledge home with them. In time, that knowledge would:
1. Help them be self-supporting on their own land
2. Lead them to give up warfare which could only end in their destruction
3. Become an object lesson themselves for tribes that lived further west and be a protective barrier for whites who lived to the east